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May Student Voice Series: Two Seniors Reflect

Seniors Perla Garcia and Drew Neff reflect on a year like no other.

Perla Garcia, PCHS Senior

Q1: How has COVID and the new “normal” that we’ve faced changed you or your personal outlook? 

A: About 7 months ago my grandma passed away and because of the pandemic I didn’t get to see her one last time, I didn’t get to say how much I loved her. Even though that was the hardest moment of my life it has taught me that life is meant to be lived in the moment because tomorrow isn’t promised. Now I try to take advantage of all the opportunities the world has to offer because I don’t want to be thinking of what could have been. I’ve learned to cherish the small things because I will never know when it could be taken away from me. Without the pandemic I wouldn’t have realized how much my family makes a difference in my life. We were each other’s support system when the world shut down. They managed to turn one of the scariest times of my life into a bonding experience and I learned a lot from each and every one of them. 

Q2: You have had an unusual senior year to say the least. What is your biggest takeaway from your senior year experience and how will you draw on it in the future? 

A: As much as I wish I had a normal senior year experience such as going to pep rallies, going to homecoming, and football games, the pandemic had other plans and this has taught me not to stress over the things I cannot control. I must accept the situation that I am in and find a way to look at it in a positive way.  As I go forward in my education and continue my dream of pursuing a nursing career, there are going to be times that things don’t go my way.  I have to learn to accept it and look at it in a positive way and think that better things are to come - I just have to wait for them to fall into place. 

Q3: What do you cherish most about your PCSD experience as a whole? 

A: PCSD is a great district as a whole but the one thing I cherish the most would have to be the teachers that I have had along the way. They have always pushed me to my full potential. They knew that I had more to give and they found a way to pull that out of me. They never let me take the easy way out, they, like my parents, knew that I was fully capable of challenging myself.  If I failed they were right there next to me, letting me know it was ok to fail but that shouldn’t let it stop me. They all were willing to help me succeed even when I didn’t think I could. They knew that I was a very shy kid but to them that didn’t matter because they saw potential in me and that gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed. 

Q4: Any final words to those who helped you get to where you are today? 

A: I am happy to say that I have committed to Westminster College and will be going there on a presidential scholarship. Not only that, but I have been accepted into the direct entry to their nursing program! All of this news has been a lot to take in especially for a first generation student and all of this couldn't have been possible without the support of my parents. They have been by my side through my ups and downs. So thank you mom and dad for believing in me, for always reassuring me that I was more than capable of taking challenging classes. Maybe I don’t say it enough but I appreciate you because I am who I am today because of you. I also want to thank the Bright Futures program for helping me through the college process. Niki Blumen and Jen O’Brien have managed to ease my stress, they make me feel secure in this upcoming chapter of my life. Thank you both for always being willing to help me out and making sure I make the right decisions as I move forward with my education.

Drew Neff, PCHS Senior

Q1: How has COVID and the new “normal” that we’ve faced changed you or your personal outlook? 

A: This new “normal” that we find ourselves in today if anything has taught me to value my social interactions far more than I previously ever have. In a time where human interaction has become a more rare commodity I have begun appreciating the little things in life that I otherwise would’ve overlooked. Even just a conversation over the phone after a rough day can mean a lot more when you put more emotional value into it.

Q2: You have had an unusual senior year to say the least. What is your biggest takeaway from your senior year experience and how will you draw on it in the future? 

A: My biggest takeaway from all of this to really be thankful for what I’ve got. While so many parts of me want to complain about how I didn’t have a senior homecoming and probably won’t have a prom (note- Prom is happening!) or orthodox graduation, I’m aware that so many other students around the country and the world might not even be able to attend their schools at all whether in-person or remote. I have become so much more thankful for the time and effort that my teachers have put into adjusting their classes to fit a hybrid structure so they can try to support their remote students as best they can. And while I know it isn’t perfect, I am thankful for the fact that our patience with them is reflected back in their patience with us as they have given us much flexibility in what will hopefully remain as the craziest year of our lives.

Q3: What do you cherish most about your PCSD experience as a whole? 

A: As a student who has moved through PCSD my whole life, the biggest thing that I have cherished is the fact that there have never been obstacles preventing me from heading in a direction that I would like to go in. I take both pride and thankfulness in seeing how there has always been a pathway for me and those around me to take so long as we are motivated enough to work through it. Never (within reason) have I had the disappointment of learning that a course, club, or group does not exist or is not feasible. As an outgoing senior, I know that I have been provided with every resource to continue to succeed outside of high school and in my future endeavors. 

Q4: Any final words to those who helped you get to where you are today? 

A: I wouldn't know where to begin without thanking all of the teachers, counselors, and coaches who have helped me build up into the person that I am today. They have all put so much effort into making sure that their students leave their classrooms in the best possible shape (especially this past year), and I know that without hesitation every single one of them deserves much more credit than they could ever possibly receive. This past school year has most certainly been the most difficult that many of us will face in our lives and I am consistently thankful for the additional time and effort that my teachers have put into modifying their classes and course load to fit remote or hybrid schedules. While I know not all of my classmates will agree with me on this front, I can attest our academic lives would've been far more difficult had we not had the support of our teachers to keep us on track.

Your Impact This Year

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